Are You an Entrepreneur…or Are You Really an Inventor?
The coolest thing about technology is it opens up a lot of doors and opportunities for the inventors and entrepreneurs. You can develop the next big tool, you can become a freelance worker, and you can even start your own business with technology.
Before diving into the next big thing, it’s good to know what, exactly, you are so you are at your happiest. Are you an inventor, an entrepreneur, or both?
If you watch the shows Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den, the sharks or dragons will almost always pick apart some company pitching for an investment because the owner is an “inventor”, not an “entrepreneur”. So what’s the difference, you ask?
An inventor is the generator of ideas. The inventor knows how to design and develop the idea, but the inventor doesn’t know how to implement the idea to marketplace, nor does the inventor know whether the idea suits the marketplace. The inventor doesn’t necessarily know how to “sell” the idea to the marketplace. If they knew how to sell the idea to the marketplace, invention promotion companies (like the one who has the caveman as their brand logo) wouldn’t be in business.
An entrepreneur is the implementer of ideas. The entrepreneur may not have designed and developed the idea, but they know the right people to generate the idea, and they know how the idea will work in the marketplace. The entrepreneur knows whether the invention will really make it in the marketplace, and they know whether the invention needs to be tweaked to make it in the marketplace.
The best comparison of the inventor versus the entrepreneur is Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple.
Steve Wozniak was the inventor. He was the engineer who knew how to create the products that people love, and in some cases, can’t live without.
Steve Jobs was the entrepreneur. He knew how to take those products and market them to the people in a way where they can’t live without the products.
Can you be both the inventor and entrepreneur? Yes. Bill Gates is the perfect example of the inventor and entrepreneur. As the entrepreneur, he had the vision that people will start using personal computers that weren’t made by IBM, while others thought he was crazy. If he was crazy enough to think that there were going to be major competitors to IBM, he was even crazier in thinking that people will use a personal computer. As the inventor, he took an existing operating system and built a better mousetrap so this software could work on non-IBM machines. As a result, Microsoft was born, and the rest is history.
If you are an inventor, you can learn to be an entrepreneur, but it may not be in your nature. Do you want to run the day-to-day business and do the marketing, or do you want to invent and build the product? Be aware of what you really want before you dive in. Here’s an example:
I was watching a Tony Robbins seminar, and there was a guy who spoke at the seminar. The guy invented a major software package that made him loads of cash. He was able to start a business from this software package. He should be thrilled, right? WRONG! Even though he was successful, he wasn’t happy. He hated having to do the day-to-day operations of the business, including the marketing, the strategic planning, and the finances. However, when he was writing code, he was happy as a lark and alive. From this, he realized that he was an inventor, not an entrepreneur.
If you want to be in business for yourself, but you’re more of an inventor than an entrepreneur, partner with a trusted person who is more of an entrepreneur. Think of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs of Apple. Woz was the inventor while Jobs was the entrepreneur. Some of the most well known businesses have this inventor-entrepreneur partnership, so you would be following an established paradigm.